I took my first proper walk along the shore today. I realized this was a whole new body of water for me: the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. I’ve been to Rajasthan (the picture in the background was photographed there) but I never got to the Indian Ocean. So this felt momentous. The Gulf! The portal from Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia to Asia. Which means it is the portal that connects Europe to Asia.
In the Middle Ages, there were three ways for people and goods to travel from West to East and back: the north route through what we call Central Asia (the Silk Road), the southern passage through Egypt (the Red Sea, but no Suez Canal), and the middle passage through Arabia (the Gulf). This was the major passage. When the others didn’t work you defaulted to this one. When the Portuguese wanted to secure their world dominance in the early 16th century, they made sure to control this passage. And today it is the one route that remains critical to the global economic system, as we we all saw with the panic induced by Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz.